Friday, June 2, 2017

Chasing Inspiration

Part of my daily routine involves browsing art (I like to do it in the morning over a bowl of cereal) - whether it's on flickr (back in the day), deviantART, tumblr, or anywhere else. Most of this art constitutes female nudes, just because that's what I'm interested in. I call this activity "research"; it would be easy to joke that I use this as an excuse to surf porn (even though very little of the imagery I browse is actually sexually explicit - although much of it may be suggestive), but, you know, it's actually true. I am much more creative, and more productive as a photographer, when I constantly surround myself with inspiration. As it was in the beginning, so shall it be forevermore. I'd love to work with an in-the-flesh muse (one that I can see all those times I'm not standing in front of the mirror), but since I live like a recluse, there's not much chance of that happening any time soon.

From the beginning of my photo/modeling journey, I've endeavored to mimic the female nudes I've admired - because, again, that is the kind of art I like, and the kind of art I want to produce. It has even contributed in no small part to my transformation from a somewhat stereotypical male appearance to regularly passing as female with little effort. To be sure, I had harbored curiosity about and an affinity towards the female gender for a long time, and would never have come so far in so short a time without the enthusiastic support of a close friend, but it could be said that to some extent, I began to transition as the result of a desire to create a particular kind of art, having only myself as a model to work with - much like some amphibians can change sex due to environmental triggers, based on the needs of the species (as popularized in Jurassic Park).

Nevertheless - and as I have explained before - I've learned that two bodies won't necessarily look the same posed in the same way, and that there are certain positions that just aren't as effective for one sex as the other. I've minimized this discrepancy by cultivating the appearance of a female, but, barring certain extreme measures I'm not prepared to undertake at this time, there are some limitations to what I can pull off. Now, when I make determinations of this sort, I have to keep in mind the subjective nature of aesthetics - and if you are, unlike me, naturally disposed toward finding the male form intrinsically attractive, you may reach a different conclusion - but while it's absolutely true that a man can look appealing, for example, with his legs spread wide open (case in point), that pose just has a completely different meaning for a man than it does for a woman. And it really boils down to how the genitals appear, and how they are designed to function.

A woman with open legs is exposed and vulnerable. She's revealing her normally hidden anatomy in submissive invitation. With a man, it's different. You're not seeing all that much more of the anatomy, and you're not so much drawn into it as it just seems to be hanging there - if anything, itching to jump out at you and take on a more dominant role. Not to contribute to sexist stereotypes, but it's a purely functional contrast. Now, one thing that the woman can't imitate is a man's erection. I find it telling (and not a little bit irritating), however, that in a lot of cases where erections are outlawed as being pornographic, women with spread legs may still be viewed (if slimly) within the bounds of nude art. This demonstrates a discriminatory double standard between expressions of male and female sexuality, likely a symptom of the heteronormative, male-dominant culture that glorifies female sex appeal while vilifying the male equivalent.

All this is to say (and yeah, I know - I can be wordy sometimes) that I set out to imitate a typical spread-eagle shot, but it wasn't having the effect I wanted, so I ended up with something a bit different instead.

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